The writer is evidently very knowledgeable. It's a great indepth lesson but with too many unexplained and uninterpreted French quotes/references and terms that left huge gaps in my understanding. The aristocratic French accent pronounciations heightened the frustration. It was like screaming English to make a foreigner understand. Further, brief but unexplained references to historical events left me continuously stopping to google for information as to what the event was and why the writer had proclaimed it as having impact on the story. Probably a better read for a French speaking historian than just an interested novice.
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
While it describes only the events of the first month of WWI, it does so in such great detail and with such clarity and vividness that it is quite understandable why The Guns of August received the Pulitzer Prize and is considered a classic in the military history of WWI. It provides a history of the plans, strategies, world events, and international sentiments prior to and during the war. As Stephen Pinker so brilliantly summarizes, “The carnage was stupefying; 8.5M deaths in combat and perhaps 15M deaths overall in just 4yrs. Romantic militarism by itself cannot explain the orgy of slaughter... the war was a perfect storm of destructive currents brought suddenly together by the iron dice of Mars. An ideological background of militarism and nationalism a sudden contest of honor that threatened the credibility of each of the great powers; a Hobbesian trap that frightened leaders into attacking before they were attached first and overconfidence that deluded each of them into thinking that victory would come swiftly... military machines that could deliver massive quantities of men to a front that could mow them down as quickly as they arrived... a game of attrition that locked the two sides into seeking exponentially greater costs into a ruinous situation; all set off by a Serbian nationalist who had a lucky day.” These are all brilliantly dissected, elucidated and offered by Barbara Tuchman for our close examination. The traps, miscalculations and mistakes are all there. More examples of the follies of war.
I read TGoA because I was interested in knowing more about WWI. The book did not disappoint because in fact I was more interested in the beginning of the war, its participants and cause(s). TGoA is not an exhaustive military analysis of the entire war; again, it really only considers the first month in detail. For those such as I, it is sufficient. For those interested in the four years following, it’s a great introduction, one probably without equal.
I couldn't listen to this when I first downloaded it. Did not appreciate the narration.
But after a couple of years I gave it another try and found it gripping. I became accustomed
to the narration. The timing and pace of it was perfect. I now understand
why the Guns of August is considered a classic.
Overall: a great way to learn some basics about WWI from a certain narrow perspective. I'm generally interested in broader social aspects of history but this is great for what it is.
Content: This is about the dozen or so generals and heads of state who got the world into WWI and all the messes that followed. Given that, I felt that there was surprisingly little about the Austrian Kaiser and what led to the decision to invade Serbia after the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. This was the key decision that started the cascade but we don't really get to know Franz Josef and his entourage or hear anything about the world trying to get him to take back his move. I don't usually think of history this way, but if that is what the book is about then it seems like this would be the key plot point but it's more of a footnote. ???
One reviewer said it was anti-German. I'm not sure how. All the leaders come off as lunatics willing to kill hundreds of thousands of soldiers (including their own) for nothing. Under the Kaiser's orders, the German army did invade neutral Belgium and commit atrocities there against civilians.
Narrator: WIth regards to the previous reviews I have to agree that doing foreign voices in English with a funny accent is silly, but a common Hollywood device. The pronunciation of foreign names was was excellent compared with most Audible narrators. Overall, I thought she did a very good job.
She was way too shrill. I have other books she's read that weren't awful, but she was intolerable here.
I recommend the version read by John Lee.
This book has piqued my interest in a way that no cut & dried history books of school ever did. (Yes, history was actually taught back then.)
Guns of August focuses on the month leading up to and the first month of WWI, an incredibly short bit of time which signaled the end of a political and cultural era, and abruptly thrust the world into the 20th century. Barbara Tuchman's excellent research and fascinating writing earned her a well-deserved Pulitzer prize for this must-read book.
And, unfortunately for me, reading - not listening - is what i'll have to do. I just couldnt finish this recording, owing neither to the writing nor performance, both of which are excellent, but to my own need for visual aids. But never fear! The print edition includes photos of the players and maps depicting the complex battle plans.
Guns of August is simply so rich & compelling that I owe it to myself to finish. I plan to purchase the print edition and simultaneously listen to the recording.
Extraordinarily well-written, and telling only the story of August was a very smart approach. If she covered the entire war in the same detail, the book would be longer than Decline + Fall. But Tuchman realized the first battles really set the stage for the rest of the war and, well, the rest of world history ever since. She does a great job of conveying the personalities of guys like Joffre, Ludendorf and Von Moltke and how well each of them coped with the unprecedented pressure they were under. I have skipped this book many times because I "already know what happened." Maybe I knew the battles but the detailed picture she paints of the old world destroying itself is something you don't get from casualty counts and timelines alone. Even, or especially, people with good knowledge of the Great War will love this book
I do not often take the time to write reviews, as I read so many books that the project would be overwhelming. However, having just finished The Guns of August, I feel compelled to comment. In this audiobook, the narrator, Nadia May, gave one of the most masterful performances I think I have ever heard. She switched among characters from Russia, Britain, France, and Germany, giving each a believable accent while also pronouncing names of numerous characters, regions, and cities in four different countries without any hesitation whatsoever in her narration. Being a new student to World War I, and lacking a comprehensive understanding of European geography, I found myself occasionally totally lost during the passages describing military movements, but I never ceased enjoying the reader's treatment of this very well-written account of the early days of World War I.